Alternative Options

Intimate Nuptials in Edinburgh


May 27, 2016
Words by Courtney Kellar
Photos courtesy of Orange Lemur Photography

Alexandra and Anthony had a sweet and simple reason for deciding to host a destination wedding. “Anthony is originally from Newcastle, England and his family still live there,” explains the bride. “Unfortunately, Anthony’s parents weren’t able to travel to the U.S., so we decided to bring the wedding to them.” Thankfully, Alexandra’s parents love to travel and were 100% on board with a UK wedding. Some of the bride’s other loved ones didn’t react so well, though. “I had a few family members who expressed the entire range of emotions when we told them about our plans…we did our best to include everyone as best we could.”

The couple went to great strides to make sure that anyone who couldn’t attend the destination wedding still felt included in the overall festivities. “My aunts weren’t able to make it, so my mom and I made sure they were there when I went wedding dress shopping,” says Alexandra. “Plus, we had bachelor and bachelorette parties in DC so we could still have a fun night of celebrating with our friends who couldn’t be there.” While the decision to get married in the UK was an easy one, the logistics ended up being slightly more complicated.

“Our initial plan was to get married in Newcastle,” says the bride. “However, we soon discovered that England has a residency requirement. We looked into several options, including getting legally married at a courthouse in the U.S. and having the ceremony and reception in the UK. But that didn’t feel right for us. We did some more digging and discovered that Scotland, though still part of the UK, has different marriage laws. Notably, Scotland allows couples to mail in their paperwork ahead of time and pick up their wedding schedule the week before the wedding.”

While the couple was able to get around the UK’s residency requirement, they did run into another speed bump when planning their Edinburgh, Scotland wedding. “The other issue was my marriage visa. Anthony has dual citizenship for the U.S. and the UK. However, in order for everything to be nice and legal (i.e. for the registrar’s office to give us the wedding schedule), I needed to have a marriage visa. The process is fairly straightforward, but still stressful. It required submitting a lot of paperwork and getting fingerprinted. Plus, the visa application couldn’t be submitted until three months before the wedding date.” 

Legality issues aside, Alexandra and Anthony were confident in their chosen location. Not only is Edinburgh a beautiful city, it was also a convenient two-hour train away for the groom’s family. “We decided that no matter what happened, as long as everyone who was coming made it to the hotel on the right date and at the right time, we would be happy. Everyone made it [and] we’re both really happy with how everything turned out.” Hosting an entire wedding weekend had a couple of perks the couple didn’t initially consider.

“Because most of our guests were already taking off work, we were able to have our wedding on a Monday, which meant much better deals with many of our vendors,” explains the couple. “Additionally, the need to stop and consider, ‘Can we take this on the plane?’ kept things from getting too crazy.” In addition, convenience and care for their guests was something Alexandra and Anthony kept in mind from day one.

“Overseas travel is stressful enough, but adding a wedding to the mix can make things look extra daunting. One of our main goals was to make getting to the wedding as smooth as possible. We chose a major city with a major airport so booking flights and getting to and from the airport wouldn’t be overly complicated. We also kept a close watch on ticket prices for flights from DC to Edinburgh and let guests know when prices dropped below a certain amount.

“When it came to the venue, we opted to have the wedding in a small, boutique hotel in the middle of Edinburgh. The hotel allowed us to reserve rooms for guests, but we still wanted people to have options. Because of the hotel’s central location, our guests stayed in the hotel, in bed and breakfasts and even hostels all over the city.”

Alexandra and Anthony expressed a concern that’s common among destination wedding couples; they wanted the long trip to be worth it for their loved ones. “We also wanted to make sure that our guests wouldn’t feel like they were traveling across an ocean to be trapped in a hotel waiting for a wedding. Scotland is a fantastic place to visit, and Edinburgh is a beautiful city with an incredible amount of history and culture (and whisky!). We were thrilled that almost everyone who traveled from the U.S. used our wedding as the beginning of a longer vacation. Some of our friends even rented a van and drove across Scotland!”I

Vendors: Photographer: Orange Lemur Photography, Wedding Planner: Janice Carnevale with Bellwether Events, Ceremony/Reception Site: The Bonham Hotel, Florist: Rogue Flowers, Stationery: Paper Source and Smudge Studio, Cake: Liggy’s Cake Company, Hair & Makeup: City Brides, Gown Designer: Maggie Sottero, Harpist: Deborah Shaw, Officiant: Jackie Grant

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